Some pan-Igbo groups on Tuesday reacted to former Abia State governor, Orji Kalu’s assertion that Igbos are better traders than politicians.
The groups, which spoke in separate interviews with our correspondent in Enugu, differed on the matter.
The Ohanaeze Youth Council, the youth wing of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, asked the former governor to immediately apologise to the Igbos, and also retract his statements.
But the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra said Kalu said the truth.
Another group, the Igbo Awareness Movement, said Igbos are ‘learning’ from previous political mistakes, but must learn fast.
The Editor-in-Chief of The Interview magazine, Mr. Azu Ishiekwene, in a statement of Monday, quoted Kalu as saying in a recent interview with the magazine, that Igbos are not as good in politics as they are in trading.
The former governor reportedly said the lack of understanding of politics and the indiscipline of Igbo politicians were responsible for what he called the political backwardness of the South-East.
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He was also quoted as saying that the political fortune of the Igbo would have been better had their politicians approached politics like the Yorubas.
Describing most of the Igbo elite as selfish, Kalu said Igbos should blame themselves and not the Federal Government for their woes.
“The Igbo have no discipline in terms of politics. They are very good traders; they’re good in anything they do, but they don’t understand politics,” Kalu was quoted to have said.
Reacting to the development, President, Ohanaeze Youth Council, Mazi Okechukwu Isiguzoro, described Kalu’s statements as unbecoming of a two-term governor who was seen as an Igbo leader.
Isiguzoro said Kalu should immediately tender an apology for ridiculing the Igbo before other ethnic nationalities in the country.
He accused Kalu of being one of those that deviated from the political ideology of pioneer Igbo national politicians like the late Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe and Michael Okpara by bringing what he described as ‘traders’ mentality’ into Igbo politics.
Speaking with our correspondent, Isiguzoro said, “Orji Kalu should immediately apologise to Ndigbo for insulting the great Igbo nation.
“During the First Republic, Igbos like Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, Michael Okpara and others were at the forefront of the independence movement.
“In the Second Republic, Igbos like Dr Alex Ekwueme were also at the forefront of national politics.
“It was when people like Kalu came to power that Igbos began to lose grounds, because he (Kalu) and his likes introduced traders’ mentality into the politics played by Igbos at the national level.
“The statement, which is ridiculing Ndigbo, was not expected from somebody who was a two-term governor.
“Was Nnamdi Azikiwe a trader? Was Michael Okpara a trader? What of Odumegwu Ojukwu, Mbonu Ojike, Jaja Nwachukwu? Were they traders?”
Isiguzoro noted that Kalu had an opportunity to become a national political leader, like All Progressives Congress national leader, Chief Bola Tinubu, but wasted it.
“When Tinubu was controlling only one state Kalu was controlling two states.
“How did he (Kalu) lose the two states? Because of his poor management skills.
“Ohanaeze youths don’t want to insult him because he is an elder, but he should apologise to Ndigbo.
“If he refuses to apologise, if he fails to retract that statement, we will put him in the dustbin of history and he will have no more relevance in Igboland,” Isiguzoro said.
Kalu said the truth, according to pro-Biafra group, MASSOB, which also reacted to the development.
MASSOB spokesman, Comrade Samuel Edeson, who spoke with our correspondent, said Igbos are not good in politics.
Edeson noted that, unlike the Yoruba and the Hausa/Fulani, Igbos are not united when it comes to national politics.
He said, “What Kalu said is the simple truth – there is no doubt about it. In politics Igbos are bad, there is no unity of purpose.
“For example, Ekiti State governor, Ayo Fayose, is a member of the Peoples Democratic Party but at the same time he always comes out to defend Tinubu, who is of the APC.
“Fayose defends Tinubu because he knows that, as a fellow Yoruba, they are brothers.
“In politics, you should always be on the side of your brother, unlike what happened when Alex Ekwueme and Jim Nwobodo contested the PDP presidential ticket with Olusegun Obasanjo at the convention in Jos.
“Nwobodo went there and began to speak Hausa.
“The Hausa/Fulani man cannot do that to his brother, a Yoruba cannot do that to his brother.
“What the former governor (Kalu) said is the truth.”